Was the Chelsea Bun the Victorian Cronut of its time ?

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I could not sleep tonight, one of those sleepless nights when the harder you try, the less you manage to nod off. I am an extremely early riser but this was too early for my usual routine and I decided to bake something for a night-time breakfast….

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There is an added bonus because I love to work with yeast….

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Chelsea buns are such iconic old English pastries created by the Chelsea Bun House in Victorian times and they remind me of Christmas, Charles Dickens and London … time to treat myself and indulge now ….. So just out of the oven are these lovely, mini Chelsea Buns loaded with a mix of grated local citrus. I have not eaten them for a while and apparently crowds lined up the old London streets to get hold of them as they do for the cronut today. I have a feeling that sleepless people may be baking old-fashioned cronuts at night in centuries to come and write about its historical appearance in the 21 century ! ….Of course I cannot describe the magnificent smell that has filled the whole house but I am sure you can imagine…. And the best way to eat a chelsea bun is straight out of the oven ! No need for butter, just as they are….

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This recipe makes 8 medium buns or 10 to 12 mini ones depending on the size.

You will need :

200g strong flour
10g dried yeast
30 ml milk mixed with 30 ml water warmed up but not hot.
1 egg
50g butter, melted
25g caster sugar
60g mixed dried fruit of your choice. I used raisins.

Sieve the flour into the bowl.
Add the yeast.
Make a well in the centre of the bowl.
Add the warm milk and water.
Add the beaten egg and melted butter.
Knead together to form a soft sticky dough.
Cover and allow to prove in a warm place for half an hour.

Roll out the bun into a rectangle about 30 cm by 10 cm,

Brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle with caster sugar.
Roll up like a Swiss roll.
Brush with butter.
Cut up in slices 3 cm wide.
Place on a baking sheet and cover to allow to prove for half an hour.
Bake in a hot oven 220 C for 15 to 20 minutes.
As soon as you take them out brush liberally with bun wash made with 30g water,
30g full-fat milk, 60g caster sugar. Heat together and bring to a boil. Keep on a constant simmering boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use while still warm.

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Straight out of the oven …

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The Chelsea Bun House, 1839

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6 thoughts on “Was the Chelsea Bun the Victorian Cronut of its time ?

From the heart of the Mediterranean.... Thank you !

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